musings on marketing, media, public relations....and life,
by David Reich
Reich Communications, Inc.
Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services.
For more info, call us at (212) 573-6000, email to david@reichcommunications or text to 914-325-9997.
We are located at 228 East 45th Street, Suite 11-South, New York City 10017
I've had several emails and calls lately, asking if I've stopped blogging or if maybe their blog subscription somehow got dropped.
I'm still a blogger, but I took a hiatus for a few months. Here's why... If you look at my previous post, you'll see we had to put our dog Loki down the day after New Year. It hurt so much and there's still a real pain in my heart and a hole in my spirit. I just didn't have the mental energy to write for the blog. And truthfully, I enjoy seeing Loki's picture there when I check my blog page.
I thought of posting many times. After all, there's been lots to write about... Super Bowl ads and prices, a new ad/marketing reporter at the New York Times, continuing trends in ad pages and readership in print media, PR gaffes by politicians and world leaders, and more. But I just didn't have the steam to put my thoughts here.
But it's time. I'm back. Thanks for your patience and please keep reading and commenting by adding your own 2 cents to mine.
More about Twitter than I can say in 140 characters...
The latest internet consumer study, reported in Mediapost's Social Media & Marketing Daily, shows Twitter, which was touted as the next best thing when it burst onto the scene, has slipped a bit.
The percentage of respondents using Twitter dropped two points to 34%. Twitter remains a major social media factor, though, behind Facebook and LinkedIn. FB remains the gorilla in the room, dominating with 77% of consumers saying they use it. LinkedIn is a distant second at 37%, followed by Twitter. Newer platform Pinterest jumped to the number four spot with 26%.
Highlighting the fickleness of social media (or maybe more the fickle nature of teens), FB continues to lose younger users who are migrating in droves to Pinterest. It's the platform of the day. (Remember MySpace?)
Twitter has proven popular as a way for fans of TV shows to share their thoughts in real-time as a show airs. And reality contest shows like NBC's "The Voice" have used Twitter not only to engage viewers, but also as an instant voting tool to let viewers decide if a contestant stays or goes.
The survey found that 52% of those who don't use Twitter make that choice because they feel it's "a waste of time." I have to admit that was my initial impression when I joined soon after the platform launched. It seemed that all I saw was people tweeting really inane things like "The sun just came up" or "Can't decide whether to have a blueberry or corn muffin." Like I care (about the muffin, not the sun).
I have found Twitter useful as a way to point people to my blog posts. And early on, I participated in a few PR chats in real-time. Didn't learn anything about PR, but it got me many of my almost 1,000 followers.
So despite the dip in the latest user survey, I'm pretty sure Twitter will be around for some time, even as new platforms continue to pop up. By the way, I couldn't have expressed these thoughts in 140 characters. Blogging is still alive and well, despite predictions that it, like Twitter, would disappear.
I'm proud to say I've been a part of the first three editions of The Age of Conversation. It's a series of crowd-sourced books on marketing and how it's impacted by social media and other communications with customers. The first edition is believed to have been the first crowd-sourced book done via the internet, and the authors had all come together as a result of their blogging about marketing. The three editions have included chapters contributed by 400 authors from 16 countries, and the proceeds of more than $50,000 have supported worthwhile international children's charities.
My friends Drew McClellan in Des Moines and Gavin Heaton in Australia (happy birthday, Gavin) have been the hard-working editors behind this project, and they're crazy enough to want to do it again. They're looking for people who might want to submit 400-word essays to The Age of Conversation 4.
The essays will be grouped into “sections” to provide a sense of cohesion to the topics covered. This year’s sections are:
Secrets – what is a secret, what is your secret and what are the limits of privacy in the Age of Conversation? Transparency – what does it mean for a business to be transparent? How do you go about making your brand or business transparent? And what happens if transparency fails? Authenticity – what does it mean to humanize a brand? What happens when business gets personal and how does so-called “authenticity” impact you on a personal and professional level? Unexpected Consequences – anything from a painful lesson learned to an unexpected cross the globe friendship. Share your journey in this Age of Conversation. How Do I … – share your tips and tricks on social media. What do you do well and how do you achieve the outcomes you want?
If you'd like to get involved, go to Drew's site for more information and a link to the contributing authors' site. You, too, can be a co-author in the next Age of Conversation.
This is my 500th post at my 2 cents. Who would've thought?
I remember when I began to blog, nearly five years ago. My friend CK (Christina Kerley), who got me started, had been an active blogger for well over a year, even though I had told her at first that she was wasting her time. I couldn't have been more wrong.
So here I am... 500 posts and nearly 2,000 comments later. Comments have come from people I know, from many I don't know and from some who I've come to know online and in person. Comments have been from people throughout the U.S. and Canada, and from Europe, Australia, Asia, India, the Middle East and South America. None yet from Africa or Antarctica, but you never know.
What I had called a waste of time when CK began has turned out to be a rewarding activity, in so many ways. Blogging has encouraged me to look at things a bit more closely. It's brought me several new friends who I sometimes engage with offline or even in person. It's brought me some business, although that was not the reason I began to blog.
About a year after I began my blog, I was fortunate to participate in the Blogger Social, which was held here in New York. More than a hundred people I had been communicating with online gathered to meet face-to-face and get to know each other. I met friends from as far away as Australia and Oman and as close as nearby towns in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A series of comments by Australian Gavin Heaton on a post by Des Moines' Drew McLellan led to a collaboration by 100 bloggers worldwide, and a book called Age of Conversation. I am proud to have been a part of that and the two succeeding volumes. In addition to bringing together more than 200 of us who contributed chapters to the books, it also raised upwards of $15,000 for some worthwhile international charities.
Some of the bloggers who were active when I began have since stopped or migrated to other social media platforms. I'm on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and a few others, but I still enjoy writing my blog most. I'm not confined to 140 characters, first of all, and, OMG, I don't have to write in shorthand.
So I hope you'll stay with me here and maybe, with some luck, we can celebrate 1,000 posts together.
Thanks for all the comments and encouragement and, most of all, thanks for reading and letting me pass along my 2 cents.
I’m pleased to be participating in the sixth Bathroom Blogfest.
The annual event, which now includes more than 30 bloggers who come from a variety of disciplines ranging from design to home furnishing to marketing and PR (that’s me), has looked at bathrooms from a number of perspectives.
This year’s theme is Climbing Out, which I take to mean looking beyond the traditional role of public bathrooms and how they can and do impact an organization’s image and its customer relations efforts.
Most decent restaurants seem to pay attention to their bathrooms. I’ve been to some places where the bathroom is more spectacular or homey than the décor of the eatery itself. And I’ve also been turned off by restaurant bathrooms that are dark, dingy or just plain dirty and unkempt. That’s not exactly someplace that will keep you in the mood for a great meal.
Retail stores seem to have a wide range of bathroom quality, but most seem to be clean and institutional. The same can be said for bathrooms at major movie theater chains. Nothing great, but clean and generic.
Supermarkets seem to be another story. Maybe the markets figure no one even needs to go while grocery shopping, but hey, nature calls anytime, anywhere. Supermarkets rarely have a public bathroom, but instead send customers to the employee bathrooms. In many cases, those bathrooms are in the bowels of the store. It’s not at all appetizing to see the backrooms of a supermarket, which are surprisingly unclean, in appearance at least.
It would seem that any store, restaurant or other place that has customers or clients coming to visit would put some effort into having bathrooms that are, at the very least, clean. And going the extra mile to have bathrooms that sparkle and dazzle reflect caring and concern for customers.
Climbing out of bare-bones bathrooms makes good sense for any business that has customers visiting. It’s good customer relations, which translates to good business.
Here's info on all 33 Bathroom Bloggers this week. Be sure to check out their posts during the coming week by clicking here.
There's an online newsletter called HARO (Help A Reporter Out) that links reporters and public relations sources. Three times a day, HARO puts out a list of queries from reporters working on stories, asking for information, background, quotes and other resources from PR people who get the newsletter.
A few weeks ago one of the headlines for a query struck me as odd. It read:
Blogging while black.
What could be or should be different about blogging for a person of color as opposed to someone who is white or latino, Roman Catholic or gay. When I took a closer look at the details of the query, the headline came into focus for me.
Here's some of what the query asked...
What are the challenges and disadvantages faced by bloggers of African heritage? Do you consciously avoid imagery that will define or brand you as black? Have you ever been asked or challenged on the tone or look of your site based on race?
It posed some interesting questions I had never considered.
My blog began just for fun, but I quickly realized its potential impact and it has become an extension of my public relations agency and my brand. From the start, I decided to keep personal info and activities to a minimum on the blog and to steer clear of politics -- a rule I've broken a few times. But the bulk of the content is reporting, analysis and commentary about media, marketing and public relations -- the business of Reich Communications.
I've never tried to hide who I am, although I don't flaunt it. My photo is there with my bio, so anyone who looks will see I'm a white guy. The grey hair clearly shows I'm from the boomer generation. I've occasionally made reference to Jewish topics such as Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. And I think my bio mentions I'm president of the Jewish Community Council in my hometown. My contact information is clearly posted, so anyone can quickly see I'm a New Yorker.
I don't post my political preferences or party affiliation. But regular readers might have figured out I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin. They might also know I love jazz and New York City.
But the HARO query made me wonder if some seemingly innocuous information like the color of a blogger's skin might hamper him or her in business. I'm not such a pollyana as to think that race, religion, country of origin or political or sexual preferences might never impact someone's decision on whether or not to hire or work with a person. I know that even in these times, prejudice still is alive in some hearts.
I realize that someone in my field who is black may have faced discrimination in business more than I have. So I can understand their reluctance, perhaps, to include their photo on their professional blog. Although at some point, photo posted or not, a potential client may meet you and see that you're black. And if that's a problem for someone, wrong as it is, that old prejudice will still be acted upon.
My feeling is if someone won't work with me because of my color or my religion, there's a pretty good chance I wouldn't want to be working with them either. But that's just me.
I wonder how others feel about including personal information on a business or professional blog. Do you or might you keep some information off your blog?
Despite Pew Research study, blogs are a viable marketing tool
The New York Times on Sunday reported on a Pew Research study that finds blogging has declined by half among teens. But the Times' headline, "Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter," can be misinterpreted. I don't think blogging is dying... not at all.
Before Twitter and Facebook gained popularity, young people saw blogging as a way to express themselves and share diary-like thoughts with the world. Soon after, others -- including marketers -- began blogging as a way to share information with customers and prospects and as a way to (pardon the use of jargon) "engage" with customers. Blogging also became, for many professionals like me, a way to build an online presence and demonstrate knowledge and expertise in a given area.
Many of those who used blogs as an open-book diary or personal journal have migrated to Twitter and Facebook, where no heavy thinking or the heavy lifting of extensive writing is necessary. In fact, Twitter, with its 140-character limit, seems perfectly suited for so much of the inane chatter that dominates social media. Better to let it clog up Twitter and Facebook than to have a few more pointless ramblings in the blogosphere.
I do sometimes tweet to share a thought or refer people to something interesting online, but mostly I use Twitter and Facebook as a platform to pomt people to my blog. And marketers can use 140 characters on Twitter to get readers to visit a company blog, where a well-written and thoughtful dialogue can be conducted.
The Pew report notes that as teens are losing interest in blogging, the longer form of expression is picking up with middle age and older adults. Among 34 - 45-year olds online, the percentage who blog has risien six percentage points in the past two years, to 16 percent. Among 46 - 55 year olds, blogging has increased by five percentrage poinmts, to 11 percent.
Maybe many of us in middle age and beyond feel no need to tell the world every time we go to the supermarket, nor do we need to tell readers online if we can't decide between hazelnut or vanilla latte when we go to Starbucks.
There's so much more to life, and blogs can let us talk about it in a meaningful and interesting way. And for marketers who want to reach out with meaty informartion and ideas, blogs are still a good venue.
So I say... blogs are very much alive.
Update Feb. 23: Cathy Taylor, writing in MediaPost, agrees.
I am glad I'm not about to graduate college next spring. It's really tough going out there, and jobs won't be easy to find.
Less than half of employers who hired new graduates last year are planning to hire again this spring. That's according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal, reporting on a survey of 4,600 companies by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.
Of those who didn't hire last year, 76 percent said they definitely won't or very likely won't hire new graduates next spring.
Despite the gloomy forecast, there are always companies hiring. Larger companies, the survey shows, are more likely to hire than mid-size businesses. The challenge for college seniors will be to find ways to stand out from the crowd.
For marketing and communications majors, employers look at more than grades. Yes, the GPA does count, but the typical job candidate will be up against many others whose grades are just as good. One way to stand out, though, is through leadership positions in extracurricular activities.
It might be too late now for a senior to be able to add leadership positions to his or her resume and he hasn't been active outside of class. But underclassmen, take notice and plan ahead.
For seniors, the internet can help make up for extracurricular shortfalls, or it can enhance an already strong all-around resume. If you don't now blog, consider starting one on a subject that relates to the career you're interested in. Read the ad and marketing trade publications and then offer your own views. I've seen some pretty good blogs done by students in PR and marketing at schools in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere, where the profs encourage their students to write online.
A well-written, thoughtful blog can help show a potential empoloyer that you're smart, interested in your chosen field and can articulate your position on relevant issues. It could give you a bit of an edge over your classmates who are after the same jobs.
These are probably typical of the messages you've seen scrawled on bathroom walls and stalls, along with nasty rhymes, gross drawings and weird invitations. But as perverted or disgusting as these messages may have been, their authors knew they had a captive audience for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes or more.
Bathrooms in public places have long been used as the venue for a strange sport of messaging that ranges from an impromptu community bulletion board to an unregulated porn marketplace rivaling Craigslist. The cost to those advertisers? Free, other than the cost of some ink from a marker or pen.
In some places, the bathrooms have long carried targeted advertising to a targeted audience, such as the unisex bathrooms in music venues like famed The Bitter End in Greenwich Village or The Living Room on the Lower East Side. On those walls, the scrawled messaged are covered over by years of stickers and posters promoting bands that have played there.
In most public bathrooms, the walls have traditionally been a wild west of advertising. But that's been changing over the 15 years, as out-of-home advertising hits the john.
Advertisers have an array of choices to reach people as they stand or sit for a moment while they take care of business. Most major markets in the U.S. and abroad have companies that place advertising posters or cards in bathrooms -- over urinals or inside bathroom stall doors. Some of these businesses exhibit a sense of humor in the names they've chosen -- Johnny Advertising in Grand Rapids, Phoenix and St. Louis, Standing Room Only Indoor Media in Nashville, Whizz Advertsing, Everywhereyougo in Michigan and Ohio, or, in Washington DC, Crapitol City Advertising.
The media kits that these companies use to sell ads tell an interesting story of how we use public restrooms. One media sales kit talks about the "long dwell times" that average 55 seconds for men and 105 seconds for women, where they are "captive" to the ad messages that, research shows, get very high recall -- much higher than ads in magazines, newspapers or TV. They have research to support these claims.
The sales kit for All Over Media in Florida lists these reasons bathroom advertising works to "reach consumers on the go."
Viewers like them.
You can saturate the market or hand pick your locations.
Your message will not be clicked past, tuned out or turned off.
People wait to see your ads and are in front of them for up to 3 minutes.
Target by location, lifestyle, gender, or zip code.
It’s cost effective. Other mediums can’t compare to our reach or retention for the same price.
The Indoor Billboard Advertising Association cites studies that show:
"Consumer attitudes toward restroom advertising were found to be very positive with as much as 98% of those surveyed indicating a favorable reaction." > Arizona State University Study
Retention of impressions generated by restroom advertising was found to be on average 40% stronger than impressions generated by other media. > Rice University Study
"When restroom advertising viewers are shopping for a product or service, retention of that particular product or service advertised raises to an 85% rate."
And bathroom advertising goes beyond posters. WhizBizAds in Mission Viejo, CA installs video displays a above urinals that run a series of 5-second ads. Another company projects ads onto the mirror from behind. And ad space can be purchased on johhny cakes, the deodorant bars that sit at the bottom of many urinals. One company even sells a johnnycake that plays a message or jingle when it gets peed on.
Many of these ad companies actively seek new locations, and they explain how bathrooms can be turned into revenue generators.
After looking through some of their sales brochures, I'm thinking of putting ads in my downstairs bathroom at home. If I can get enough traffic coming through, it might cover the cost of our toilet paper.
I'll give it some more thought the next time I'm in there for a couple of minutes. With no ads up yet, there's not much else to do.
This post marks the third year I've participated in Bathroom Blogfest. Previous posts can be found here, here and here. To read the contributions of the other 32 blogging participants, click here.
I just noticed that Matt Dickman is back with his blog Techno Marketer. When I first started blogging almost four years ago, Matt was one of the more prolific and thoughtful bloggers in the marketing space.
After he began a new job with PR agency Fleishman-Hillard, he slowed down and let his blog go dormant for about a year and a half.
But now he's back, and he says he'll put his focus on strategy, trends and innovation.
So... welcome back, Matt. We'll be looking forward to seeing your thoughts online again.